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Humble start but history-making

The first Central Conference in South-east Asia in 1922 was a landmark – one step towards making the world our parish, although it was the 1950 Central Conference when Methodist Churches in South-east Asia elected their first bishop – Dr Raymond L. Archer. The writer, the Rev J. H. Lewin, was the Pastor of Wesley Church (1922-24) who contributed this article before his last voyage home.

First Central Conference in South-east Asia: 1922

‘THE Central Conference for South-eastern Asia assembled in Wesley Church, Singapore on 27th April 1922 and concluded its deliberations on 2nd May.

At the opening session the delegates from the Philippine Islands and Malaysia Conferences and from the Netherlands Indies and North Sumatra Missions were cordially welcomed by Bishop Bickley who presided alternately with Bishop Locke at the various sessions. The purpose and aims of the Conference are finely expressed by Bishop Locke …

“In participating in this initial gathering of the Central Conference of South-eastern Asia we are making history today. This may be a humble beginning by very humble people but the day will come when a world-wide Methodism will function through this Central Conference in a practical way to more than a hundred million of people.”

… The Central Conference makes Methodism operative as a great inter-nation organisation. It likewise may obviate the strong tendency to set up independent, or so-called National Churches. It was John Wesley’s inspiring vision that the world was his parish, and Methodism is so far-reaching and cosmopolitan in its genius that, instead of being broken up into many divisions, it may be possible for it to continue as a vast integral force, adapting itself to the psychology, and languages, and traditions and customs and institutions of all God’s human folk anywhere around the globe ….

The Conference memorialised the General Conference of 1924 to:

§ Renew the Enabling Act whereby the Netherlands Indies Mission Conference may become an Annual Conference during the quadrennium …

§ Grant an Enabling Act whereby the North Sumatra Mission may become a Mission Conference during the next quadrennium … and

§ Re-enact the Enabling Act whereby West Borneo may become a Mission …’ (MM, June 1923, pages. 61-62).